HL Deb 31 January 2005 vol 669 cc11-2

3.12 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)

My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I shall also speak to the other two Motions in my name.

The first Motion refers the report of the Economic Affairs Committee on Monetary and Fiscal Policy to a debate in the Moses Room. The second refers a statutory instrument for debate in the Moses Room. It is expected that both those items of business will be taken on Monday, 21 February. The third Motion applies a time limit of one and a half hours to the debate on any Unstarred Question referred to the Moses Room. These are all in line with the decision of the House on 10 November last year.

Moved, That the report of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs on Monetary and Fiscal Policy: Present Successes and Future Problems (3rd Report, Session 2003–04, HL Paper 176) be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Baroness Amos.)

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I do not want to waste the time of the House but I think we are moving into difficult territory here when we talk about sending such things to a Grand Committee because, in fact, Grand Committee rules will not apply, particularly to the one where the time is being limited to an hour and a half. It is axiomatic in your Lordships' House that the Committee stage of a Bill, whether it takes place here or in Grand Committee, is open-ended and people can speak as often as they like and table amendments. I feel that the use of the phrase "to a Grand Committee" is not right. If we were to say that it should be taken "off the Floor of the House" or "in the Moses Room", or something along those lines, that might make more sense.

Baroness Amos

My Lords, I thoroughly appreciate and understand the concerns raised. That is why, in my explanation, I talked about a debate in the Moses Room. I am very happy to take away this matter and discuss it with the Clerks, but I reassure the House that it is intended that procedures during debates in the Moses Room should be as close as possible to those on the Floor of the House.

Lord Peston

My Lords, perhaps I may ask my noble friend about exactly the same point as was made by the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. I was puzzled when I first saw the wording and so I spoke to my Clerk. I was assured of precisely what my noble friend has just said—that is, we have to use the expression "sit in a Grand Committee" as a term of art but it has no meaning other than that we have our normal debate, we do not speak for too long and we speak only once. So—harking back to the mythology aspect of an earlier Question—I am perfectly willing to accept as part of our mythology that we have to talk in this way but, speaking as the person who will introduce the first of those debates, I was assured that there was no problem and I do not believe that there is.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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